Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I had a very interesting conversation today with a co-worker on the subject of tithing. He was describing a capital fundraising drive taking place at his church. It seems the pastor of this fellowship is pressuring the congregation to "step up" their giving to sacrificial levels (we're talking 20% type) and to record your pledges so that the leadership will "know" that this is happening. There seems to be guilt trip associated with the whole process along with "some name it and claim it" theology - give until it hurts and the Lord will bless you back financially.

While the people of God in the Old Testament did bring tithes totaling 23% in some cases, a model for New Testament churches was found in 2 Corinthians 9:7-9, "You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, 'Godly people give generously to the poor.Their good deeds will never be forgotten.'" (NLT) . The focus here was first deciding how much and then doing it cheerfully, from the heart. Unfortunately, this pastor seemed to be encouraging people to go into debt or neglect family responsibilities so that they would have the $3M needed for his plans. If that is not a recipe to drive folks out, I don't know what is. Instead, God calls us to be good stewards of the time, talent and treasure He loans us. In reality, everything we have belongs to Him and we should not hoard it. When, one day, we stand before Him, we want to be able to give a good accounting of how we invested all of that for His kingdom.

How sad that the pastor of that church would have to resort to such tactics to bring in the bacon.
TFB has it faults, but one thing I can truly say, we do not have to go to those lengths to have our needs met. Our pastoral staff and church leadership have no clue as to who gives what. When we have needs, we say so and God directs His people to meet those needs. Churches that try strong-arm fundraising techniques are what cause non-believers to think that we are all about the money. This is so not Jesus.


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